We live in an extraordinary time.
As a jungle missionary we live in a remote province of the Philippines where, just ten years ago, we had no cell phone or TV signal, no home phone, no internet capability, and enjoyed electricity only about half of the time. We now have a satellite TV feed to my house with more than thirty English-speaking channels. My laptop is connected to a 2 terabyte external hard drive and a printer that can be used as a copier or scanner. Our wireless antenna atop our roof delivers high speed internet to my wireless router. We’re able to send instant messages, e-mail attachments, communicate using voice over IP (magic jack) and voice with video (Skype). I’m connected to hundreds of people who read my blogs, tweets, and social media posts. The isolation we used to feel has vanished. We live in an amazing time.
We now distribute solar-powered audio Bibles to people who are blind or illiterate. These devices called “Proclaimers” are translated into the local language and contain carefully rehearsed dialog, powerful sound effects, and background music. They can also be powered by an AC plug or a crank on the side of the device. We live in a remarkable time.
My son recently downloaded a free application onto his ipod that displays the proper finger positions for every possible guitar chord. You can listen to each chord, or select notes within the chord to play. This application can also be used to tune the guitar to a standard or alternative tunings. He has over 100 equally impressive applications – almost all of them free. As I write this he’s using FaceTime, an ipod application, to speak (with video) with his older brother eleven times zones away as they compete against one another on tetris via facebook. We live in an astounding time.
I’m always cognizant of the great need and suffering experienced around us here, and am willing to set aside simple luxury. We choose not to use hot water because it will raise our electric bill by more than 1000 pesos each month (an amount that goes a long way here in the province.) We can easily live without the TV and satellite feed and I’m considering getting rid of them both; we rarely watch enough TV to justify owning it. But my internet connection and computer are ministry tools that have become indispensible; they, too, would be deemed unnecessary if I failed to use them in the Lord’s service. What must you have, and what can be reallocated to a higher purpose? I wish my neighbors could enjoy the same technology that I enjoy. We live in a time of wonder and incredible opportunity.